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Literature Searching: Step 1: Defining the search

Follow our step-by-step guide to help you carry out a good literature search

What is a literature search?


A literature search is a thorough search of all types of published materials which shows good quality references relevant to a specific topic.

To do a good literature search, you need time and patience. Using some of these techniques will help.

You have to think very carefully about what you want to search for. Then stay focussed.

Useful handouts

What does peer review mean? This little handout will help.

Looking at your search question

To search effectively you need a clear understanding of the topics you want to search for. Here's an example question:

"Is Obesity associated with insulin resistance in teenagers?"

1. Break the question down into the key topics you need to search for:

"Is Obesity associated with insulin resistance in teenagers?"

2. Try and think of alternative words and phrases (synonymous)

Peer Review in 3 minutes

This video by North Carolina State University Library describes the peer-review process.

Start with your reading list

Have a look at your reading list on your module. There will be useful books, journal articles and other resources to help you get started.

Think alternatively...

Also, think about:

alternative spellings

e.g. paediatric (UK)? pediatric (US)?

any related terms

e.g. self care? patient compliance?

variations in word endings

e.g. teenage? teenager? teenagers?